....RETURN OF A DO DO ?....

            A closer look at a famous beer that need not fall prey to Darwin's  theory....


Sometimes there are facts that stay in-bedded  in your brain forever....like some strange curios!   When David McCaig of the Otter Brewery in Devon told me some years ago about a fact relating to his previous employer Whitbread's.... it clearly stuck like glue!

After the Second World War over 80% of Whitbread's production was down to one brand only  -  Mackeson Stout!

It was one of the most powerful brands in the country and certainly the most important in the  Whitbread  arsenal.

In effect it was carrying the brewery at that time,  an incredible statistic  ( and responsibility)  which must have  played heavily on the minds of their marketing men also!  Clearly it was the right product at the right time and like Churchill cometh the man,  here then cometh the beer to restore the nations health!  -  a role it was seemingly  made for!  It was the  milk sugar content  (or lactose)  that was the prized commodity within the brew.  Being a by-product of cheese lactose remains un-fermentable in the brewing process, giving the beer a perceivable sweetness on the palate.  It was these supposed nutritional leanings in country desperate after years of shortages that caught the British public's imagination,  and such benefits were not lost on the drinking public who propelled Mackeson to the fore!

After the war however the  Ministry of Food  took a different  view of the products elevated status,  and deemed Mackeson's  pronouncements on health and it's beneficiary effects as misleading.  Both the term ' milk ' and the picture of the  churn  were removed from the label.

Today the product often sits uncomfortably on the supermarket shelf.  Both the churn and the lactose content have thankfully re- appeared once again on the packaging,  but often it sits next to the  ' power brand '  of Guinness like a long lost relative.  Unloved and misunderstood it appears like a relic of a bygone taste,  a Do Do close to extinction! 

In today's UK market  its alcohol content of only 3% and stayed image give it only limited appeal,  but a stronger Mackeson  ' Triple X '  version is sold in both the Caribbean and the USA.  This brew would no doubt find favour here also but has never been made available.

To find a Milk Stout of similar  ' export '  strength in the UK is a rarity,  but thankfully due to the adventurous flair of the Left Hand Brewery in Colorado it gives us a chance to not only taste  ' what might have been '  but also an excellent product in it's own right.   At 5.2% alc. it clearly fits the bill.  On the aroma there are soft dark malt tones combined  with a notable touch of   ' double cream ' . On the palate you notice the luscious mouthfeel  combined with a smoothness that the lactose brings to the brew.  It is curious and beguiling effect that gives flavours reminiscent of a combination of both  horlicks  and  Irish cream liqueur.  It has excellent balance with subtle carbonation and is a truly characterful example of the style.

Is this a case of  ' look and learn '  for Mackeson ?  If a product such as this can be so good there is little excuse for what is currently available in the UK.  Mediocrity after all could well lead to the Do Do affect....

Contact the Left Hand Brewery for stockist in the UK on:  www.lefthandbrewing.com  

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